In early spring of 2007 I decided to quit my job, sell my house along with nearly everything else that I owned, and to live out of my car while traveling the country. These are my stories (and pictures) of life on the road.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Travel Day

After finishing things up in Hayden Thursday morning I said my goodbyes, hit the road and headed south. I was in no rush so I took my time and meandered about. It had been raining on and off all morning and while that seemed to be over with it was still pretty gloomy. I crossed over into Washington for a while and as I drove south the land scape started to change pretty rapidly. It went from mountains covered with coniferous trees to rolling hills and sparser deciduous trees. There was a lot of farming and the way the land, towns, and houses were laid out looked a lot like Iowa, except this was much hillier. In Washington this area is called the Palous; and it's rolling hills as far as the eye can see, very pretty. Unfortunately the combination of no contrast lighting from the over cast skies and my lack of ambition of taking photos at the time led to a photo which really doesn't to the area justice at all.

I got back on highway 95 and kept driving south. The scenery was a little bit on the boring side when I noticed a decent little canyon that seemed to come out of nowhere on my left. I was thinking how it seemed kind of strange and out of place when I came to the top of a hill just north of Lewiston and the bottom fell out of the earth! There was what seemed like a huge vertical drop that fell into a huge valley where the Snake and Clearwater rivers met up with the town of Lewiston below. The whole thing was very surreal and as I turned around to stop at the lookout the sudden drop off made you feel like you were floating in mid air because you couldn't see the land dropping away. It was a bit disorienting for a second. I pulled off highway 95 to drive down a small road that went down the steep grade, the road had an amazing number of switch backs and I can't imaging trying to design it.

I kept going south, heading for Hells Canyon (the deepest canyon in North America). It wasn't until nearly sunset that I actually got to Riggins, where I'd enter the park. I looked on a map and drove on a forest road in the dark to a saddle where I spent the night; I came across little elk and it's mother along the way. By the time I got where I wanted to go there was just a little bit light left. I parked the car and went to sleep for the night.

When my alarm went off at 4:30 the next morning I didn't have much ambition to get up so I hit the snooze button. When it went off again in 5 minutes I was ready to just shut it off and go back to sleep when I looked out the window and saw the glow from the approaching sunrise. I looked at it a little, almost went back to sleep, and thought I might as well take a picture of it to post on my blog. I just rolled down the window, snapped a couple frames, and started to settle back in when I noticed a nice view out the back window. Then I actually looked around a little and saw some pretty incredible views everywhere! I was parked in the middle of a large meadow covered in wild flowers of impossible hues of purples, blues, and violets. Just to my left was the edge of the meadow where it dropped sharply and over looked parts of Hells Canyon. All that was enough to motivate me so I got up and got outside to admire the sunrise and to hike around a little. I could hear coyotes calling not too far distant and farther down the mountain I was on I could hear turkeys calling. I scared up a couple pheasant and quail and came across 4 or 5 mule deer all standing together with fresh sets of velvet covered antlers who just stood and looked at me for a while. I even saw a couple humming birds stop at some of the flowers. It was well worth losing an extra hour or two of sleep over.

After a couple hours I headed back to the highway, went a little farther south, and took another forest road that would take me up to about 8500 feet for some great views of the canyon and the surrounding mountains. As I approached the top I started to run into fresh snow that must have fallen just a day or two earlier. I tried to get to the end of the road but was stopped by some large snow drifts about 1/2 mile from the end so I had to hike it the rest of the way. The weather was absolutely gorgeous; sunny, calm, sky full of large puffy clouds, and a temperature in what I'd guess was the low 50's on top of the peak. The view wasn't too shabby either. I was actually giddy and couldn't quit giggling every time I looked around. Not just because of the scenery, but because I'm really enjoying this trip so far and it's sooooo much more fun then working. I couldn't believe that in the 60 or so miles of forest roads that I drove in the park that I only saw 2 other vehicles, and one of those was a forestry truck.

I drove around the south side of Hells Canyon and into Oregon to travel on to Baker City to meet up with Dusty Christensen; who said he'd be happy to take me on some hikes and show me the area. I must say I didn't feel very welcome in Oregon because when I crossed over the border at highway 71/86 I didn't even see a sign welcoming me to Oregon! The nerve of some states!

The further West I drove the drier the land got. It was pretty much brown and just covered with sage brush; the only green were little ribbons where the creeks and rivers passed through. In the distance I could see some large mountains with snow on top. As I got closer I found that Baker City was sitting at the bottom of the mountains and when I got to Dusty's house I found that the mountains are pretty much his back yard! Just after I arrived I was treated to an excellent meal and it even happened to be Dusty's birthday so I got ice cream and german chocolate cake too! Tomorrow morning we're heading out for an all day hike....I think I'm going to enjoy myself here the next couple days.

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You've reached the end of the page but that's not the end of the stories. If you want to read more (and who wouldn't!?) then click on the archive links to the right hand side of the page. They're listed by month; the adventure starts in May.

The February archives aren't actually from this trip but are previous adventures I've had, which are worth reading as well.